How many ways can tweens and teens rebel? Let me count the ways.
1. Yelling their rebellion and refusal bluntly and clearly….
- “You can’t make me.”
- “I’m not going to.”
What do you do with that response?!!! How do you move an immovable child, tween, or teen?
2. Putting you off by saying…
- “Just one more minute.” over and over.
- “I have to finish this first.”
- “I can’t do it now. I’ll do it later.”
- “I promise I’ll do it after I…..”
- “I have homework to do.”
- “I’m too tired.”
3. Trying to start a debate, prove you are wrong, and change your mind by saying….
- “Why do I have to?”
- “That isn’t fair. Susie doesn’t have to.”
- “Why can’t you do it? You’re the parent.”
- “You say that homework is important and now you are saying I have to do chores. Make up your mind. You don’t make any sense.”
- “Why do I have to do it when we have a housekeeper?”
- “It’s my room and I can do what I want with it.“
4. Blatantly ignoring your rules
- Doesn’t call when they are supposed to.
- Doesn’t answer your call or text.
- Sneaks out at night.
- Lies to get what they want.
- Having someone in their bedroom without permission.
Whatever way you are experiencing rebellion, it’s tough to know how to handle it with composure and inner strength.
I offer a new perspective on figuring out how to reduce rebellion. Most parents focus on the negative behavior and ask “How do I change the behavior?” “How do I get my child to do chores? “How do I…..”
This is a narrow view of rebellion which is reactive to the child’s behavior in the moment rather than proactively analyzing and preparing for the need for power. This approach disregards what is going on in the parent-child relationship at other times.
Rebellion against authority is an attempt to gain power in one’s life when one feels powerless. When you are asking kids/tweens/teens to do something you want them to do that doesn’t interest them, this is a prime opportunity to gain power by saying “No” in one way or another. Your asking has given them a choice even though that is not your intention.
They know you can’t force them physically to walk the dog, wash their clothes, do their homework, not say bad words to you, etc. They have the upper hand and will use it if they feel powerless.
I propose a wider view of looking at how children gain power. Consider that they, and us, can feel powerful in a positive way through acting independently. Independent thought and action are very rewarding psychologically.
So, rather than trying to stop the rebellion (a negative approach to power) think about how you can provide positive paths to power at other times. Whenever you have a collaborative discussion, you are allowing your child to have power by contributing to a joint solution. Whenever you support their own decision-making process without telling them what to do, you are offering them a boost of power that builds their self-confidence. They have power over their own life which is a wonderful feeling of satisfaction.
Because guiding children to positive ways of gaining power is important in reducing rebellion against you, it’s crucial to learn how to perform the Collaborator Role and the Supporter Role. At the same time, learn how to be a better Director when you are setting limits and giving directions so you aren’t guiding your child toward rebellion.
This new perspective will help you get unstuck from trying to control your child to not rebel, to guiding them in ways to gain positive power.
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